HC Deb 08 May 1990 vol 172 cc11-2
14. Mr. Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received regarding expenditure on education in Wigan; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Howarth

My right hon. Friend has received in the past month two representations about expenditure on education in Wigan.

Mr. Lewis

Is the Minister aware that the Audit Commission and Her Majesty's inspectorate have given Wigan education a clean bill of health and that the charge capping that has been unfairly placed on Wigan could militate severely against education provision in the town? When will the Secretary of State and his Ministers take responsibility—or is it be shifted along to Marsham street?

Mr. Howarth

Wigan's original budget for 1990–91 for all services is no less than 21 per cent. above its standard spending assessment, which means an extra bill of £151 for each Wigan charge payer. The huge majority of authorities have been able to establish a satisfactory education budget without setting such a high community charge that they run into charge capping. The hon. Gentleman might have a word with his colleagues on Wigan metropolitan district council and suggest that they do the minimum of shouting from the housetops and take advantage of the opportunity that they will shortly have to meet my hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Inner Cities and have a quiet talk together.

Mr. Thurnham

Does my hon. Friend agree that education costs can be offset in a number of different ways? Is he aware that Wigan has listed savings of £88,000 for school cleaning costs and £22,000 a month, among other things, by withdrawing from the nuclear-free zone steering group?

Mr. Howarth

As always, my hon. Friend unerringly has his finger on the button.